Few times have I seen the moon that bright. Huntington was so well illuminated that the massive rock buttress that divides the middle of the ravine cast a shadow over central gully. Standing there in awe we were compelled to howl at the moon to honor the untamed spectacle that surrounded us. It was a call to those we had lost, shouts to a distant place whose existence we are unsure of but we hope is inhabited by those we miss and love.
Familiarity is dangerous; it leads to mental shortcuts and assumptions. Bringing Brett (a professional Kayaker but backcountry skiing novice) up to Mt. Washington cut through the repetitiveness that develops over the course of the ski season. The landscape became awe inspiring in a way that is reserved only for those who are experiencing it for the first time. I was reminded of how lucky we are, those of us who call the mountain home, to ski, climb, and live in such a beautiful place.
As is always the case in the mountains we ran into like-minded people throughout our trip. Some were traveling up to pay their respects to friends they had lost, others were there to climb and appreciate the alpine grandeur that surrounded them, and then there were those who simply wanted to get away for a while. The backcountry skiing community is close knit for a good reason. In a place where uncertainty is omnipresent it is important that you trust your friends and know they will watch out for you. Despite being relatively new to the sport I never questioned Brett’s willingness or ability to “have eyes on” and make sure we got up and down the mountain safely. Our goals were set in correlation to our group’s collective ability and we spoke openly of the risks we were willing or unwilling to accept. Most importantly, throughout the course of the trip and various decision-making processes, we found that time in the mountains “is nothing if not an opportunity to cement friendships” (Rebuffat, 1954).